Palm's CES news. Just in time or too late?

Palm's CES news. Just in time or too late?

Summary: Palm may be in a good position to generate some buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show - and a major announcement about its long-time-coming operating system, called Nova, could be the thing it needs to grab the spotlight. It shouldn't be too hard to make some noise at CES this year.


Palm may be in a good position to generate some buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show - and a major announcement about its long-time-coming operating system, called Nova, could be the thing it needs to grab the spotlight. It shouldn't be too hard to make some noise at CES this year. From what I can tell, tech's show-of-shows is gearing up to be significantly slower than previous years. (I hear there are still hotel rooms available on the Strip.)

But is it too late for Palm to jump back on to this stage? After all, the smartphone playing field got pretty crowded, pretty fast. iPhone, Android and a whole new line of Blackberrys have hit the scene hard in last year or so. I can't help but wonder if Palm - considered a pioneer with its original Pilot PDA - may have lost some of that brand cachet, especially among a new generation that doesn't remember the Pilot, Tungsten or even Treo.

Gartner SmartphoneAccording to the most recent smartphone numbers from Gartner, Palm's OS only had 2.1 percent of the market in the third quarter, right above "others" on the list. Some Palm devices also run Windows Mobile, which has 11.1 percent share, but still falls below RIM and Apple.

Fellow ZDNet blogger Matthew Miller makes a good point about the Centro, which was last year's debut, being a nice premium phone but not a powerhouse that can compete with the iPhone, the Blackberry portfolio or even Google's Android. If Palm truly wants to remain in the mobile game in 2009, it needs to position itself into the mix of choices that enterprise and consumers have today by offering a strong contender.

Forrester Research is projecting that, despite the economy, enterprises will continue to make mobile initiatives a priority. The research firm said, is one way companies can reduce costs, improve efficiency and stimulate productivity. The report notes:

In 2008, Forrester’s survey results show that between 40% and 60% of enterprises in North America and Europe identified more mobility support to employees, implementation of fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) solutions, and formalization of a mobile strategy as critical priorities. We expect a similar priority rating in 2009. Why? Mobile applications and solutions let enterprises cut costs and improve employee productivity or worker efficiency — all important initiatives in a constrained business environment. In contrast, mobile initiatives will have a lower priority among small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that, instead, will focus on their core business competencies during the difficult economic environment. Mobility vendors of all types must develop strong return on investment (ROI) analysis and case studies justifying investments in their products — whether it is third-generation (3G) data services or software to manage mobile devices.

So the window may be opening for Palm. But how long will the opportunity be there? What might the smartphone landscape look like this time next year? Better yet, what might the smartphone landscape look like by the time CES rolls around. Macworld is earlier that same week and the only buzz I've heard from the Mac rumor mill is an iPhone Nano. But you know what we think about Apple rumors.

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Mobility

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  • Palm lacks focus

    So Palm is going to support 3 embedded OSs? That doesn't sound too intelligent, they previously had trouble supporting only one.

    An announcement without details is the same as an empty promise, if you can't provide details at this late date that probably means that there are no details to share.
    • Palm sort of seems like the GM of the smartphone industry.

      However, I'll keep my Treo 680, as it's only 3 years old and still serves my needs. If it breaks, it'll be time to shop around, again. Maybe by that time, Apple will have figured out how to make Iphone with a replaceable battery.
      • By all means, keep your Treo

        There is nothing that can touch the Palm OS for functionality as a PDA. I have an iPhone, but I keep my Palm Tungsten. Why can't Apple add Palm's search functions and classification flexibility?
  • Too little, [b]WAY TOO LATE![/b]

    Palm? They used to be nice.

    But they waited [b]forEVER[/b] to move their stuff forward.

    No, they just played a constant game of "let's decide if we work together as one company or two." I've lost track of how many times they've merged and split.

    In addition, 99% of the software companies have thrown up their hands and lost interest in development for the Palm OS. How are they [b]ever[/b] going to get all of those companies and people back into development again?? They've already proven that they're competing with Duke Nukem Forever for the longest development time in software history.

    And the dichotomy (soon to be a trichotomy, it appears) of OSes isn't helping at all. Developers generally aren't interested in developing for more platforms if they can help it, and with most of Palm's newest devices being Windows Mobile, Palm OS is pretty much treated as a dead OS.

    Not to mention Android and the iPhone have [b]really[/b] raised the bar for phone OSes so it's going to be that much harder for Palm to compete.

    While I'm sure Palm has done its best to create a "web 2.0" friendly OS + browser, the competition is already ahead of them:

    The iPhone and Android are using webkit, which is already a mature, stable, and [b]complete[/b] rendering engine. Not a "mobile" or "limited" browser - Palm is up against a browser that was originally for PCs and ported to mobile devices.

    If the default browser of this new Palm OS has any hint of "mobile"ness attached to it, it's gonna flop miserably. It's full support or bust at this point.

    In addition, somewhere along the line they gave Access their OS, and now Access is creating their own Linux based rewrite of Palm OS. I'm sure Access will want their own piece of the action.

    Frankly, Palm needs to get their act together and not tear themselves apart like this. Not only was it unwise to play around with repeatedly splitting and merging and selling and whatever else they've done to the company, it's unwise to have taken so long to develop their new OS.

    If Palm had released this OS before the iPhone and Android, I'm sure they would've made a big splash and we'd all be talking about them right now.

    But now?

    Well, now Apple and Google are setting the bar, and the new bar is very, very high.

    Unless this new OS is absolutely incredible, I'm not seeing Palm making any sort of big strides back into the market. Sorry, but the company has been waiting too long.

    Palm, you are too slow. Either speed up and get back into the fast lane, or accept the fact that you're gonna be eating dust.
  • Palm isn't dead yet?

    Ah well. I understand they made a passable PDA in the 90's. They're pretty much irrelevant now.
  • RE: Palm's CES news. Just in time or too late?

    Even though Palm has slapped me in the face several times over the years, it's still the easiest and most productive platform for me. Nova should have been out years ago instead of wasting all that time producing Windows based devices.

    Integration is the key... Give me true seamless syncing with networked calendars, addressbooks, etc. Update Versamail with useability features like Chattermail and Snappermail have. Jettison their browser for one that's useful while keeping the simplicity of PalmOS and they've got my attention.

    Palm, I'm rooting that this will actually be something special. Good luck.
    • Agreed

      When I bought my smartphone early 08, I had to have the simplicity of synching everything properly, without having to remember to do several different steps. I also wanted a calendar program that is easy and intuitive. I don't care if that program was written 10 years ago- if it still does what I want it to do, it's a worthwhile program. After all consideration, I went with the Palm Centro. It's not as cool as the iPhone, nor as trendy as the Blackberry, but the dang thing just works, and works well. For the person who is online for hours a day, using his mobile device, this might not be good enough. For most of us, the Centro is great.

      I, also, hope that Palm turns it around. Their management still scares me, for all the same reasons mentioned in the other posts. Why does it take them so long to make decisions? Another example of this is the new "Claus" advertising campaign for the Centro. Where was this a year ago, when the Centro was first coming out???
    • Absolutely agree

      Specially on the subject of seamless sync capabilities. No phone I have heard of has such a seamless integration with MS Outlook (BCM)than the Treo family. Smart phone trend seems to be moving away from the productivity niche to the niche of social-entertainment-must have-gadget for people who do not really know what to do with their hands when they have nothing to do.

      If Palm's strategy implies they will move in to that niche, they will doubtlessly loose that bet against Apple. They might also be tempted to move in the same direction as RIM's Blackberry; who envisions productivity as breathtaking connectivity with mediocre sync integration with powerfull tools such as MS-Outlook. Actually, most people I know who use Blackberries have dropped their usage of Outlook-Express (not MS-Outlook)as their main connectivity platform and, interestingly enough, not for productivity reasons, but for social reasons. Moving in that other direction to solely compete against the attributes of RIM's products will also mean a sure bet on Palm loosing against RIM, for the sole fact of having arrived late.

      Instead, they should be thinking of preserving the cappabilities for which Palm is undesputably recognized: a powerful, simple to use, fully sync integrated productivity platform; and boost, on their forthcoming OS, more powerfull connectivity cappabilities such as the ones RIM has. Leave Apple alone, 3 out of 5 people I know who has an iPhone, also have a Blackberry.

      Palm might be lured by the piece of the pie they are missing from iPhone and Balackberry. If they do so - and I honestly think they will - they will abandone the market segment constitued by people who do not mind about the gadget, but care about what they can do with it to increase prodcutive and efficient work, besides talking on the phone. If that ever happens, I'll trade my Treo 680 for a 20$ cell phone and an decent PDA. Back to the nineties. Bad for Palm, bad for us.
  • RE: Palm's CES news. Just in time or too late?

    Palm's management a classroom example of myopic leadership.

  • RE: Too late for Palm.

    It??s a shame that Palm, once the leader in Smartphones have fallen so fast. I was a Palm customer since the times of Palm III, and this year I changed my Samsung i550 to a Nokia E71 with Symbian OS.

    I think that is too late for Palm OS.
    Fausto Carrion.
  • RE: Palm's CES news. Just in time or too late?

    Even if the new operating system has some cool features, the history of Palm would dictate that it might be another 4+ years before we see any additional upgrades or improvements. I really dont think this makes for a very innovative or dynamic environment that inspires confidence in consumers or developers to move to their platform.

    They used to be very cool, but are now just an also ran in the smartphone environment...this is unfortunate.

    I think that Nova may be too little and way too late to play in the smartphone arena anymore.
  • RE: Palm's CES news. Just in time or too late?

    i like palm. i like the handheld concept. i like to
    write, not to type in a sort of keyboard that doesn't
    allow for writing a text... an email, may be. iphone
    is a blague if you think about writing, and all mini
    keyboards are just un-natural. remember, when you were
    a kid, you learned how to write with a pencil? so i
    really like to write, and i do a lot on the palm. in
    fact i do most of my word stuff in it. i keep using
    it, because i can not get anyting as easy and yet as
    powerful as a palm. i still have an working t3 and use
    a T|X daily. i hope palm won't die and keep some space
    in their heads to the handheld device.
  • Give us some real smartphone!

    I just love my Palm TX (my third PalmOS handheld), but at the same time, I run around with a Windows Mobile phone in my pocket... And I really hate Windows Mobile and the likes! The ideal smartphone to me would be based on the PalmOS, but the TX's beautiful big screen! As for keyboard, I can do with the Palm Wireless Keyboard. Please, make us that phone, and I am sure the market share will grow again!
  • Here's hoping for Palm's comeback

    I am a big fan of Palm's past products. I loved my Tungsten T2 and used it religiously for several years. I also have a Zire 72 and just bought a Palm Centro smartphone for my wife. I use a BB 8830 for work - supplied by my employer - which I really enjoy using. I just hope that Palm can make a comeback with this new OS and some fresh thinking about the market and new devices. Shame to see a former leader on the wane - hoping for good news in 2009.
  • Is the new OS compat with the old????

    Or is this Centro, that is a month old in my hands, obsolete software? Been a fan of Palmware for years... like it wanna keep it, but does that mean I have outdated stuff already? When Nova debuts, am I going to be screwed out this deal?
    • I heard, "yes"

      I read that it will maintain legacy support. This is a big deal to many who have stuck with Palm to support its huge library of apps.
  • RE: Palm's CES news. Just in time or too late?

    If Nova delivers as a portable Linux system then I think it has
    a good chance of keeping a foothold in the market. Mobile
    Windows platforms have no competition and the iPhone while
    attractive seems little more than a toy for the "must have"